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More than 100 Alberta doctors have signed an open letter to express concern about a decision to revoke a job offer to the province’s former chief medical officer of health.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw had reportedly been hired and then removed from a role with Indigenous Wellness Core, a program in Alberta Health Services focused on Indigenous health.

CBC News reported last week that it led to the resignation of the group’s medical director, Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, who said she left out of frustration with the move.

The doctors sent a letter Monday to Dr. John Cowell, the chief administrator of Alberta Health Services, and Premier Danielle Smith raising their concerns.

“Revoking Dr. Hinshaw’s contract has caused significant harm,” said the letter, which was posted on social media and confirmed by The Canadian Press.

The letter said it not only hurts Hinshaw, Tailfeathers and the relationship between doctors and the province, but all Albertans – particularly those who are Indigenous.

“Dr. Hinshaw has been prevented from working for AHS,” said the doctors. “This is entirely unfair and unprofessional. Further, it signals to all physicians in this province that their positions are unsafe and could be targeted for political gain.

“There is no place for leadership which undermines the decisions, recommendations and sovereignty of the Indigenous Wellness Core, and no place for political interference in health-care delivery.”

No one from Smith’s office immediately responded to a request for comment, but she was asked about the move Saturday on her Corus radio call-in show.

Host Wayne Nelson asked whether Hinshaw being “unhired” was a case of political interference.

“Well, I guess you’d have to ask Dr. John Cowell about that,” Smith responded.

“These are decisions that are made internally. I was briefed as it was unfolding and it does seem to me that one of the things you would observe about our government is how much we care about Indigenous health.”

Nelson then asked directly: “So, no influence or direction from your office specifically in this particular case?”

“Look, I was briefed after the news became public and it’s up to Dr. John Cowell to answer those questions,” responded Smith.

A request to speak to Cowell was made Monday through Alberta Health Services, but spokesman Kerry Williamson said there was nothing further to add from last week’s statement, which said: “AHS doesn’t speak to personnel matters.

“AHS remains firmly committed to working with Indigenous communities and will continue to work to provide culturally safe health care for all First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples throughout the province.”

In the letter, however, the doctors said Hinshaw’s dismissal has led to a cascade of events that are detrimental to patients and the sustainability of the Indigenous health strategy in the province.

“Thus, we request an investigation into the ethics and integrity of Dr. Hinshaw’s dismissal, and we call on the official administrator to publicly apologize to Dr. Hinshaw and Dr. Tailfeathers.”

Smith, who has long aligned herself with those questioning the mainstream science approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, had removed Hinshaw as the province’s top doctor soon after she became premier in 2022.

Smith blamed both Hinshaw and the leadership of Alberta Health Services for failing to deliver the best advice and care for Albertans as the hospital system came close to buckling in successive waves of the pandemic, which the premier said forced the province to impose freedom-busting vaccine mandates and restrictions.

In November, Smith also fired the entire governing board of Alberta Health Services and replaced them with Cowell.

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